Thursday in the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Philippians 2:12-18

Working His Good Pleasure in Us

Having pointed to Christ Jesus as the quintessential exemplar of humility and service, Paul now commends that way of living to the Philippians.  They have a good track record regarding obedience to the “word of life,” be that word expressed by the Apostle or the sacred writings.  Indeed, what a wonderful compliment Paul paid that church—one which every church should covet.

Out of this obedience to Christ, they are to “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [them], both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  This line tends to throw people off wondering what the Apostle meant.  How are we who are saved by grace to work out our salvation?  And why with fear and trembling?  As I have said in these pages before—and will continue to say—grace is free but not cheap.  God intends to save us from our sins, not in them.  Hence, to “work out our salvation” is to take God’s intent to sanctify our lives seriously.  Our Lord is so kind and gracious that He refuses to leave us where we are at the moment of our rebirth but demands that we grow in grace, that we draw closer to Him, that we run farther up and farther in, as C. S. Lewis would say.  The Father’s goal in saving us is to glorify His great name by making us more like His Son.

But how shall we do this?  The same way we were saved—by His grace—for He is the One who works in us that we may do His good pleasure.  The difference is that while in our regeneration, the work was entirely the Lord’s, in this work of sanctification, we too are required to work, to do our part, to abhor our sin and desire godliness.  And by His grace, we can learn to do things without grumbling or questioning, not only going one mile but two, bearing insults if need be for the cause of Christ, understanding that the cause of Christ will often have more to do with the change happening within us than with displaying a banner before the world.  In this way do we shine as lights in a dark world while “holding fast to the word of life,” and we must hold fast to that word if we shall ever grow in grace.

Paul, as the one who preached to the Philippians and founded this church, and who modeled throughout his ministry such humble and sacrificial service, proclaims his readiness to be “poured out as a drink offering,” that is martyred for the faith which he had shared with them, and calls them to rejoice at such an opportunity.  The Christian life is a humble life, martyr’s life, a life of testimony to the One who works His good pleasure in us.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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